An evocative environment is just as much a part of a compelling adventure as motivated villains and heroic action. This article sets forth several considerations for bringing wintry themes into your Pathfinder Roleyplaying Game and Dungeons and Dragons adventures. Primarily for DMs and GMs, this advice is broken up into four key areas: communicating the environment to players, advantages of winter-themed adventures, on-the-fly rules to support cold-based adventures, and guidance regarding adventure conversion.
To help you plan out your campaign and provide ongoing support for Rise of the Drow: Collector’s Edition, we’ve created this outline and flowchart. It presents ways to navigate through the Rise of the Drow prologue (included in the collector’s edition) and the alternate prologue, the Stoneholme Trilogy.
This flowchart will put the intended outline of the adventure’s campaign arc into perspective. It is also a concise bit of GM advice for running Rise of the Drow that helps track experience “gaps” inherent to a sandbox campaign. Note: This post contains spoilers, if you are a player you’ll want to stop reading here and instead send this post to your GM!
Continue reading From Script to Sandbox: A Rise of the Drow Outline
There is a long tradition in fantasy roleplaying of drow equipment being destroyed or rendered useless upon exposure to sunlight. Rise of the Drow: Collector’s Edition hints at this tradition with some equipment found in Tolgorith Tower, but throughout the prologue—which takes place on the surface, albeit mostly under an eclipse— the equipment the drow use is presumed to be of drow make, yet no discussion is given on the usefulness of those items should they find their way into the hands of the player characters. Here, then, is an optional bit of world-building the GM can include regarding drow-crafted arms and armor. These rules are kept intentionally vague to serve for any roleplaying game, as well as to allow the GM flexibility in implementing them. Continue reading Rise of the Drow: Disintegrating Drow Equipment
As noted on page 85 of Rise of the Drow: Collector’s Edition (RotDCE), the Stoneholme trilogy of adventures could serve as an alternate means of embarking on the campaign to thwart the drow in the Underworld. Follow us on Discord and Twitter to stay up to date on promotions and discounts that you can use to pick up the Stoneholme trilogy, or any of our products for your campaign!
Herein is a brief outline of the Stoneholme trilogy, as well as a few key inclusions the GM can make to tie into the plot of Rise of the Drow. The Rise of the Drow: Campaign Primer also serves to introduce players to the Underworld, providing them context for playing in the ancient dwarven city. Read no further if you want to avoid spoilers. Continue reading Rise of the Drow Alternate Prologue: The Stoneholme Trilogy
By far the most asked question we receive about Rise of the Drow: Collector’s Edition is, “Is it supposed to be this tough?”
The short answer is yes, it’s supposed to be a challenge. It’s a challenge for the players to use their resources wisely and to look outside their character sheets for ideas. But it’s also a challenge for the GM to keep the characters constantly in danger, constantly on the verge of defeat but also moving forward.
The first chapter of the prologue is called “The Darkness Arrives” and it is meant to set the tone for the entire campaign. The drow are introduced as a formidable foe, and the frantic pace and overall sense of encroaching darkness throughout the prologue compels the heroes to action and drives the players toward the quest of thwarting the drow. The prologue is not only difficult, but potentially deadly. While some groups embrace the idea of a TPK and enjoy the threat it poses, it’s not for every game table. What follows is a guide to avoid that most gruesome fate. Stop reading now if you want to avoid spoilers. Continue reading Rise of the Drow: Surviving the Cathedral
Subterranean environments are one of the most beloved locales for exploration or adventure in tabletop gaming. Synonymous with the concept of “dungeon delving,” underground realms have been a consistent trope used by GMs for decades. That’s not to suggest that explorations into the world below don’t have their place or serve a very important function—there are many good reasons that world builders, both novice and professional, continue returning beneath the surface to spark both intrigue and wonder as well as cast a foreboding sense of dread.
To understand the natural draw to subterranean adventures and the psychology that sustains the tabletop RPG motif, one must first examine human nature and our history as a species. Since the human race first started crafting stories and myths around ancient campfires, venturing into the earth has always remained a powerful theme—it is often the dwelling place of supernatural beings and spirits, the land of the dead, and the domain of devils, demons, dragons, trolls, and countless other mysterious creatures, as well as a focal point of religion and mythology or places of power. For millennia, our ancestors have assigned mystery to the world beneath our feet more than to any other tangible environment.
As a world forever trapped in night, the ever present darkness in subterranean adventures provides a sense of danger that forms a sound foundation for excitement—a danger that is hard to willfully dismiss (even when taking into consideration magic or other means of illumination). Anticipation and apprehension of the unknown and unseen are biologically ingrained into our very beings, and we are mentally hardwired to perceived risk, providing a psychological route for more fully immersing players, making it easier to create epic and memorable experiences.
In a world of layers the subterranean adventure can encompass immense caverns, winding corridors, steep pitfalls, narrow chutes, and vents that access ascending or descending pathways that all interlink with vast chambers and crisscross over and under one another. Without a reliable means of orientation, it is incredibly easy to become hopelessly lost in these vast complexes, but a grandiose sense of scale can be easily obtained within a multi-tiered subterranean environment. Whether purposefully crafted by sentient minds or naturally occurring, the more this knotwork of connectivity is utilized, the more challenging (and rewarding) the subterranean environment will be to explore. It’s worth noting that you are also able to utilize the entirety of the environment much more easily (making climbing PCs far more mobile, but generally changing the expectations of a regular gaming experience on land rather than inside of it). Underground networks of streams, reservoirs of groundwater, and enormous aquifers can provide the same boundaries and hazards as their aboveground counterparts, and dark waters rich with bioluminescent algae and a surfeit of creatures that have adapted to a sunless world can provide a rich food source to support unique and complex ecosystems.
While a subterranean adventure can be as simple as the basement of a castle, the ground beneath our feet provides a ready palette the beckons for deeper and grander exploration. One good source for ready-to-play content to prepare such adventures is the AAW Games Underworld series that provide over a dozen books filled with races and classes designed specifically for a subterranean setting. If you’re looking for a complete subterranean adventure path, also check out Rise of the Drow.
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